A Conventional, Vogue-Crammed Indian Marriage ceremony in Greece

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This is an installment from the BAZAAR Bride archive of pre-lockdown weddings. We first discussed telling Sarika and Mikhil’s love story pre-lockdown, after they tied in the knot prior to the pandemic. As one of the last weddings before gatherings were restricted and stay-at-home orders were put in place, we hope their wedding weekend in Greece will inspire couples now planning weddings worldwide once more.

“It seems that our story was written 70 years ago, and it was just a matter of time until our paths crossed,” Sarika Tarsadia Patel tells BAZAAR Bride of her marriage to Mikhil Patel.

The first sign that the pair was fated came in 2016 when they were both living in Los Angeles and Sarika’s cousin sent her a screenshot of Mikhil’s profile on the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel. It was accompanied by a message saying she had found Sarika’s future husband. Not long after, Sarika signed up and created a profile of her own. She spent a couple of weeks patiently swiping and waiting to see if the platform deemed them compatible. They finally matched, partook in a brief text exchange, and decided to meet up.

“I had a feeling something was different about him,” Sarika recalls of that night. “He caught me by surprise and after our first date…I just knew.”

Sergio Sandona

Sergio Sandona

amanzoe

Sergio Sandona

Part of knowing their fates had been sealed was the decades of shared history that proceeded them, which they discovered in their initial conversations. As it turns out, both of their grandparents had lived in the same village in Zambia, and their houses were just a few doors apart. Both of their fathers attended the same school; both of their mothers lived in London before moving to the States.

The parallels were uncanny for the pair, who are both from third-generation Indian families that migrated from India and Zambia. Sarika (who leads the creative strategy for T2 Hospitality, and runs her passion project, Together By Gravity, a handmade jewelry company) and Mikhil, a founder and principal at Ashwood Real Estate Partners started dating while she was living in Santa Monica and he in Silverlake—“basically a long distance relationship in L.A. terms,” Sarika jokes.

About a year in, Mikhil relocated his commercial real estate company to Austin, Texas, further increasing the distance between them. Three-hour flights replaced sitting in traffic for what felt like ages just to drive 18 or so miles. And after a year and a half of dating, Mikhil proposed—in a way Sarika could have never expected.

the couple at the welcome dinner

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the welcome party at amanzoe

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sarika and mikhil

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“I wanted to make the proposal a very special experience for Sarika, and since traveling is one of her greatest passions, I knew it had to take place somewhere amazing,” Mikhil explains. In the summer of 2018, Sarika was on vacation with her family in Europe. She and Mikhil planned on meeting somewhere afterward for a trip just for two of them, for what she thought was a normal vacation.

“I chose San Sebastian, Spain, as I couldn’t think of a better place to pop the question. It had been on our list for a while, given its coastal beauty and world-renowned dining scene,” Mikhil explains. The morning of their first day there, Mikhil had planned on taking Sarika on a stroll with a local photographer hired to document the moment. But it was drizzling, and convincing her to walk on the beach proved a challenge.

bridesmaids before the puja

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sarika at the puja

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puja decor

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Despite his nervous muttering, he managed to get her out on the sand, grabbed the umbrella from her hand, threw it aside (“because nobody wants an umbrella in their hand when getting proposed to, right?”), and dropped to one knee. He presented her with an oval-cut diamond on a yellow-gold pavé band by Lugano Diamonds before proclaiming that he just couldn’t wait any longer and asked her to be his wife. They marked the occasion with a meal at Akelarre, drove down to wine country, and spent time at the Hotel Marqués de Riscal before flying home to celebrate with their families.

Sarika always knew she would have a destination wedding on or near a beach. “It felt more relaxed and exciting to think of the whole process as a vacation for our close friends and family versus planning a full Indian wedding,” she says. “I wanted this to be a trip of a lifetime, not just for us but for all of our guests.”

puja

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puja

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bridesmaids

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A planner by nature, she also always wanted to take care of the entire planning process for their parents, whom she wanted to be able to feel like guests themselves. “We didn’t want them to feel stressed or concerned about a single thing, so I knew I had to work with people I trusted and that my family had worked with for years, many of whom also did my older sister’s wedding,” Sarika explains of putting her vendor team together. She started with Ajita Chopra Events and secured additional talent from Southern California; other vendors were local to the destination they had landed on for the wedding weekend: Kranidi, Greece.

While on that family trip before the proposal, Sarika and her family stayed at Amanzoe, an Aman resort. The destination is an embodiment of its name, with Aman meaning “peace” and “zoe” being the Greek word for “life.” One night they were enjoying pre-dinner cocktails overlooking the Argolic Gulf, when the conversation turned to how it would be the perfect place to get married. Little did Sarika know that at the time, they were harboring the secret of Mikhil’s proposal, which they knew would take place the following week.

puja and prithi

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sarika at the puja

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puja

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When it came time to consider which destination they’d host their wedding, Sarika and Mikhil considered several options from the Caribbean to Indonesia, but the bride always came back to Greece, and to Amanzoe. She’d fallen in love with the property. “It was about how [we felt] there, something about the fresh sea breeze and the tribute to both the classical architecture of ancient Greece and the rugged Peloponnese landscape. I was inspired by the culture, local cuisine, aesthetic, and the hospitality. I knew I had to share this place with everyone I loved—so much beauty and simplicity all around,” says Sarika. Mikhil had yet to visit the venue, but he trusted his soon-to-be-wife knowing just how special the location was to her.

A week before the wedding weekend began, Sarika and her family headed to Greece to finalize the finishing touches for the multiple events they’d been planning and take a few days to enjoy themselves before guests started to arrive. Mikhil and his family ventured to Athens for a bit prior to heading south. With three days of events ahead, it was imperative to adjust to time zones and relax.

The final night before the wedding weekend commenced, Sarika’s parents hosted a dinner at their villa with immediate family to gather while Sarika had her bridal mehendi done by Beauty by Lishma (who also did hair and makeup for Sarika, her mother, and her sisters for all of the weekend’s events). The intricate application of the henna took a few hours to complete, and the family enjoyed a private moment to kick off the event-filled days ahead.

pool

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mehendi

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The festivities all took place on-property at Amanzoe in various locations across the resort. Ajita Chopra partnered with The Event Co. to assist with production and Shawna Yamamoto Designs to create different looks for each of the couple’s six events. Sarika and Mikhil tapped Sergio Sandoná and East West Productions (one of BAZAAR Bride’s Top Videographer in the World), to document it all.

“I came across Sergio through BAZAAR Bride’s Top Photographers in the World list and reached out to him because I loved his style of work. Since he lived in Amsterdam we never had the chance to meet in person, but his sense of humor, calmness, and attitude really stuck with me. It was something I knew would be important since we would be spending so much time together during our events and would need his direction to capture all our moments to cherish forever. I couldn’t be happier with how he blended in with my family and bridal party. He was so much fun to work with, always brought a smile to our faces, and I really appreciated how he went above and beyond for us,” Sarika says.

couple

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bride and bridesmaids

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sangeet outfits

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Up first, a welcome dinner at the lobby bar and firepit terrace. Sarika wanted the décor to be simple so as not to detract from the setting. Abalone shells highlighted the natural blues of the Aegean Sea, and coral, candles, and olive branch arrangements were placed atop the soft white linens. The décor tied into the bride’s attire, which was a concept sari by Guarav Gupta with a cream-colored duppata. Sarika, her little sister, and their mother took a two-week trip to India to find all of their Indian outfits, starting in Delhi, followed by Jaipur to design jewelry, and ending in Bombay to finalize additional looks and details for the ceremony. This look was one of the first she’d tried on. “It was a modern, Grecian take on a traditional Indian sari that I thought would fit perfectly in the environment,” she says of the piece, which was accented with shell and pearl details. Since Mikhil’s style lens towards comfort and simplicity, he wore a linen suit from Club Monaco to complement his bride-to-be.

sangeet

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sangeet

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Day two of Sarika and Mikhil’s celebration came with multiple events. First, a pair of auspicious rituals to bring on good luck for the couple and wish away any possible obstacles that they may encounter: a Ganesh Pooja and Pithi. Often performed separately by the bride and groom, Sarika and Mikhil wanted to modernize their event and share these rituals with each other. Both took place in the amphitheater, which was decorated with traditional marigold garlands. The Indian traditions and modern Greek architecture melded seamlessly yet vibrantly, and the décor and formalities balanced an organic elegance and spiritual sensibility. For the design, Sarika was inspired by the Pithi itself (a turmeric paste applied to the couple by well-wishers for good blessings but also as a cleansing ritual before the main ceremony), the marigolds, and the greens of the trees surrounding the area. Woven accents, textured vases, and floating blossoms filled the space, surrounding the custom canopy designed to provide shade from the Mediterranean sun.

For the ritual, Sarika wore a traditional lehenga from Anita Dongre and Mikhil sported a white kurta from Priya Chhabria. Then, it was off to the Beach Club for the Mehendi, where traditional henna designs are applied to the bride and her bridal party. With shell collecting being a favorite pastime of the bride’s, the event’s look and feel was inspired by the iridescence of the pieces she’d collected over the years. A shimmering entry installation set the scene and clear balloons filled the pool and sparkled in the sun. It was playful, light, and fun; fresh-caught fish served as crudo and hamachi, grilled octopus, and a variety of Greek dips were served.

sangeet

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sangeet

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The dress code was a mix of swim and resort wear. Sarika chose a silver Oséree Swimwear one-piece, worn with white linen pants and Maryam Nassir Zadeh wedges. Lishma and her team were on hand to apply intricate Mehendi to any guests looking to further accessorize their looks for the weekend.

For the final event of the day, guests gathered at the main pool of the resort for the couple’s Sangeet. The most colorful of the events, the decor featured dark green furniture that coordinated with the tiles lining the pool and arrangements that incorporated locally sourced flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

Getting in on the vibrant palette and festive dress code, Sarika wore another Guarav Gupta design in bright red with floral appliques. Her mother and sisters also selected outfits in the same color from his collection to complement the bride. Diamond studs and YSL platform sandals rounded out Sarika’s ensemble. Mikhil wore a dark blue custom sherwani from the same designer he’d donned the night prior, Priya Chhabria.

bride

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bridal details

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bride

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Aman brought in a chef from one of their properties in Jaipur, sourced a tandoor machine, and prepared an amazing Rajasthani Indian meal for the couple and their guests. From the cocktails (a spicy margarita) to the Bollywood music, the night was filled with entertainment and joy. A total of seven dance performances and three speeches from cousins, Sarika’s high school best friends, and Mikhil’s college pals made it even more personal.

Come time for the wedding day, it was back to the firepit at the lobby—the bride’s favorite spot in the hotel. “The view looking over the bay, feeling the sea breeze blowing through your hair, and the shape of the platform in a circle symbolizing totality and wholeness seemed like a perfect place to get married and join our souls,” she says.

Within the center of the custom canopy (which was large enough to cover everyone in attendance) hung a sizeable installation of pampas grass serving as a non-traditional mandap. The clear chairs echoed the clear acrylic wedding invitations by Luxe Marie Custom Stationery and were chosen intentionally to keep the views unobstructed.

bridal party

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bride

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In lieu of arriving on a horse for the Baraat, where the groom is ushered by a parade of friends and family to the ceremony, Mikhil drove up in a white vintage Mercedes as dhol drummers played and the festivities began. “That car was the perfect fit,” Mikhil says of his entrance. “I’m also a pretty understated guy who shies away from the spotlight, so having 160 people dancing circles around me while my friends hoisted me on their shoulders was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.”

The rest of the processional was a bit more mellow, with a harpist playing as the bride entered. Like the main installation, the aisle—built over the reflection pool as a direct path to the center of the stage—was flanked with billowing arrangements of pampas grasses.

While the previous night was all about color, this event was far more understated. Instead of wearing a bold shade of red as is traditional at Indian weddings, Sarika went with a soft gold tone instead. Ghazala Khan from Raaz Couture helped her source her outfit from Tarun Tahiliani by setting up a private showing of his latest collection for Sarika and her bridesmaids at her parent’s home in southern California. They spent the day trying on different designs, taking measurements, and deciding who would wear what piece for the occasion. In the end, Sarika chose a bridal Lehenga in Resham silk, with pearl and sequin embroidery, paired with a lace blouse and embroidered dupatta finished with crystals and fringe.

baarat

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baarat

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baarat

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baarat

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Mikhil also wore a subdued ensemble, though his embellishments were a bit subtler—a custom raw silk sherwani with pearl embroidery made by Frontier Heritage.

The bridesmaids and groomsmen complemented the couple’s ensembles, wearing ivory outfits by Tarun Tahiliani styled by Raaz Couture and Priya Chhabria respectively, with Sarika’s sisters in Anushree Reddy. Guests were asked to wear pastels or soft neutrals for a cohesive look. “I thought it would just make the whole event so much more [beautiful] and it did,” Sarika explains.

A simple lunch followed before the big reception that evening. During the few hours between meals, Sarika changed into her penultimate outfit for the day—an Adam Zohar gown and Gianvito Rossi heels. She had tried on about a dozen dresses at The White Dress before coming back to this style, which was one of the first she considered. “I fell in love with the cut; the leaf details reminded me of the olive trees in Greece,” she recalls. “Wearing a white dress was always something I wanted to do as a bride. I loved the sophisticated and contemporary designs that were so opposite from the traditional Indian wedding outfit,” she says. Mikhil also went classic and formal for the event, sporting a Z Zegna tuxedo, patent leather tux shoes, and an IWC watch gifted to him by his parents.

ceremony

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ceremony

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ceremony

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ceremony

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couple recessing

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The concept of dinner under the stars has long been favored by Sarika, and so that was the starting point for the final event of the wedding weekend. At the Beach Club, twinkle lights blanketed the pergola, under which long tables were set. Elements from each of the previous events merged together for this final celebration, with capiz shell place cards at each seat and artichokes included in the centerpieces that also boasted orchids and king protea.

Before it got dark and the space truly transformed, the newlyweds made their grand entrance via the resort’s speed boat. It was a favorite moment for both Sarika and Mikhil. “Enjoying a quiet moment with my wife, floating on the sea, reflecting on our bright future before our triumphant return to a crowd lined up on the beach awaiting our arrival was a surreal experience,” he notes.

They went straight into their first dance, to “You Are The Reason” by Calum Scott and Leona Lewis, played by their favorite DJs from back in California. “Amit and Nick always know how to set the tone no matter what the event,” Sarika explains of the entertainment.

boat

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tabletop

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boat ride

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reception

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first dance

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The two weren’t the only musicians on hand for the party. “I watched a couple of videos of Duo Violins playing in Mykonos and thought it would be so fun to have them perform,” Sarika says of the performances given during cocktail hour and after dinner. The 5-course meal highlighted many of the couple’s favorite dishes, and the couple’s parents, siblings, and best man gave speeches during dinner, bringing most guests to tears before fireworks lit the sky signaling that it was time to dance.

Ahead of the after-party, Sarika changed into a two-piece, hand-stitched sequined off-the-shoulder Retrofête look paired with Nike Air VaporMax Flyknits. A full lounge had been set up on the sand and late-night snacks made the rounds, but with her sneakers on and the group fully fueled, no one wanted to leave the dance floor. When midnight rolled around, Sarika surprised her husband with a birthday cake; after the group sang to him, the dancing kept going and everyone ended up in the pool at 5 a.m., where the dance party continued. “I didn’t need any more reason to enjoy the night, but being able to wake up with my wife on my birthday felt like the beginning of a brand new, exciting chapter,” says the groom.

reception

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fireworks

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fireworks

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While Sarika planned a wedding weekend from across the world, looking back she reflects on how it all came together. “We were so lucky that Amanzoe already had such an amazing sense of design and space and we only had to add small details to make each event feel unique to us, blending our culture with the surroundings,” she says.

After their celebrations in Greece, the couple headed to the Maldives. Within just 27 hours after their wedding, they landed in another tropical paradise and had taken another momentous boat ride. This time, a 40-minute yacht journey brought them to the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. They spent the week relaxing and enjoying married life. From there, they flew to Marrakech and checked in to the Amanjena.

after party

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the couple

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While their time in South Asia was restorative, they infused their days and nights with additional R&R and a healthy dose of adventure. They’d start their days in the hotel spa with a massage and end with a head and foot rub, with various activities and outings in between. A sunrise hot air balloon ride over the desert and the Atlas Mountains was a gift from an aunt and uncle; they toured the bazaar looking at handmade housewares and explored the city’s various hotels. Two highlights? Drinks at the rooftop bar of El Fenn and a beautiful dinner at La Mamounia.

The couple then embarked on their second big adventure as newlyweds: Sarika officially relocated to Austin. They had found their house the summer before the wedding and Sarika had begun to move her life from California to Texas with each visit. Their newlywed home now includes some great finds from the souk in Marrakesh, like a vintage rug, traditional tea set, and a set of glassware.

With their paths intentionally crossed and their lives officially merged, that notion that surfaced the first night they met was further cemented—these two were destined to be together.


Contributing Weddings Writer
Shira Savada spent a decade overseeing the real wedding content for Martha Stewart Weddings and now runs her own consulting business within the wedding industry.